Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tips for Being Productive At Home

One thing that many moms struggle with is utilizing their time while at home. This doesn't just apply to stay at home moms, either! Often, we know that this is a problem but we don't know where to even begin in a way that will actually improve the situation. Fortunately, you can improve your own productivity and thus reduce your stress by staying focused on a few simple things that will make a big impact on yoru day. Print these out and post them where you can easily see them throughout the day.

Before doing anything else, ask yourself this question to see if you should even include what you're doing in your schedule:
Does this benefit myself or my family? Does this harm anyone? Am I intrinsically fulfilled by doing this? Does doing this in the way that I am and the amount of time I spend on it a true reflection of what I value and who I want to be?
Once you have established how you should approach the actions that make up your day by answering the above questions, then you can begin to apply the following rules to help yourself be more productive.
  • Set a limit on your screen time. This means Facebook, Blogging, TV watching, texting, surfing the web, and checking email. Don't trick yourself by thinking that your searching for deals online is exempt from this rule! What used to be chatting on the phone for our own moms when they were raising us has now become playing games on our smart phones and getting into debates on Facebook, or even gossiping in online message board forums for us. Find a number that is reasonable (whether 20 minutes or an hour), and stick to it. Get a timer!
  • Make a menu. These are easy to do, don't take a ton of time, and can be saved to reuse in the following weeks or months. You can make these weekly or monthly, and you'll find that it'll reduce your grocery bill, the amount of food you waste, and make you feel way more on top of your home management!
  • Rest. It's important to find time to rejuvinate yourself, whether it's by getting a good night's sleep, reading a book, working out, or meditating. This will not only improve your mood, but also your productivity!
  • Make a chore schedule. Include who's laundry gets done on what days (don't forget towels, sheets, and diapers!), the "daily" chores like sweeping and dishes, as well as the "monthly" chores like mopping and scrubbing the bathtub. Even better, put checkboxes on it so you can track and be motivated by your accomplishments. Include your children on this chore chart to help instill a good work ethic and family responsibility within them.
  • Target your weakness. Do you find yourself watching TV too much during the day? Did you ever stop to think that it might be because you're lonely and lacking stimulating conversation? Try listening to a book on CD while you're folding laundry instead. By looking at the reason behind the behavior that you want to change, you may be able to find an alternative and thus eliminate the problem altogether.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

DIY: "The Very Hungry Caterpillar Day" activities & inspiration

I realize I'm getting this out just in the nick of time, so if you can't get everything ready for tomorrow, the first day of Spring, when The Very Hungry Caterpillar Day official occurs, plan to celebrate this weekend! You might be surprised though, how many things you already have around your house that you can throw together for a momentous day tomorrow.

Create your own line of snacks that are as close to the food in the book as possible. Use a straw to poke holes in the food. Don't forget your lettuce leaf at the end! Source: The Masked Mommy

You can also recreate pictures from the book using healthy food! Source: It's Our Long Story

Sensory Tub
Throw in anything related to the book that you can find, and maybe a few other things to fill in that theme along colors or textures, too! The items included in the one shown below are dyed green rice, colored large bottle tops, colored craft sticks, cardboard tubes with shiny tape wrapped around for pouring, neon plastic shot glasses for scooping, coloured cotton reels, coloured pom poms, wooden fruit, cakes, ice creams and other food items from the story, a few real clementines for a real sensory experience, a Very Hungry Caterpillar butterfly toy (a caterpillar would be a fabulous addition too!), and a copy of the book. Source: The Inspiration Tree

DIY Felt Book
I found this unbelievably adorable and FREE felt book instructions so your little one can have a quiet book experience of The Very Hungry Caterpillar! Included are printable templates for you to follow when cutting your felt. Source: Lavender's Blue Designs

Target: small motor, colors, sequencing, math.
Instructions: Cut out 1 apple, 2 pears, 3 plums, 4 strawberries and 5 oranges out of felt. I hand drew my own stencils out of cardstock, but you can also use stencils or find free clip art online to help you with the shapes. Punch a hole through the center of each felt fruit. As you read The Very Hungry Caterpillar, have your child lace the felt fruit onto the green “caterpillar” pipe cleaner in order of them appearing in the book. Review the colors of the fruit with your child. Source: See Vanessa Craft

Target: Listening/word assimilation, motor skills, object recognition.
Instructions: Print and cut out the printables in the link (click on photo). Glue to sticks of some sort, and allow your child to choose the correct object to hold up when you get to that point in the story. You can create a story board with this by having foam blocks or an upside down egg carton for your child to stick the sticks into when you get to that point in the story, creating a visual timeline of the story when done.
Printables are from: Make It Cozee

Target: motor skills, colors, math, science
Instructions: Create a butterfly life cycle. First, look at photos/pictures of a butterfly life cycle (easy to find online), and then make your own by drawing, gluing pictures to a plate and adding arrows, or making a 3-D one like the photo below. Directions for making the one below can be found at: Classified: Mom

For a huge, and I mean HUGE supply of printables, games (dominos, bingo, snakes & ladders, etc. all with "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" theme), activities, booklets, and MORE, visit English Teaching Worksheets!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Wooden Nursing Necklaces Co-Op **CHEAP!** Open for 72 Hours

I stumbled across a great Co-Op for nursing necklaces at a price that you'll want to stock up on for gifts for others! The organizer agreed to keep it open for another 72 hours so my readers can get in on the action, so here it is! :)
Cost Details:
  • Price: $2.17 per necklace.
  • Co-op Fee: $1.00.
  • Payment: Please send PayPal payment to momof3littles@aol.com minus $1.00 off of the Co-Op fee that's listed on the spreadsheet (the organizer changed the fee but didn't do so on the spreadsheet, so it will tell you to pay $1 more in the total than you need to!). When paying, do NOT put anything in subject or notes.
  • Shipping: This will be calculated after the order is placed. You will be responsible to send payment for shipping to momof3littles@aol.com when your amount due is anounced on the spreadsheet.The organizer will use polys and ship FC to save everyone low costs on shipping.

Product Details:
  • Ring size: about 60mm
  • Length: 70cm
  • Material: wood + wax cotton
  • Lead Testing: I asked the manufacturer about this, and we are told that these necklaces are "safe", but I don't know anything further than that.

Ordering Information:
  • Co-Op will close Thursday at 12pm, EST. Payment should be sent immediately after you sign up. Any orders for which payments are not received by Thursday at 11:59pm have the right to be canceled by the Co-Op organizer.
  • Shipping can take up to 25 days to the organizer, and then on to us if our total order doesn't equal $200 or more. If our order does go over $200, then we will qualify for express shipping to the organizer.
  • To place your order with the Co-Op, add your information and "save" it to this spreadsheet by clicking HERE.

"Pea In Pod" Style

"Flower" Style

"Circle" Style

"Wooden Bead Circle" Style

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Bringing Literature To Life For Your Preschooler

How to teach a story to your preschooler in five days:

Day 1: Read the story, show pictures, ask questions to assess and aid in comprehension.

Day 2: Assign child to create three specific age appropriate illustrations for the story. For example, in the story of The Three Bears, ask her to draw a picture of the three bears, a picture of Goldilocks eating porridge, and a picture of a bed. You can use various mediums for creating the illustrations, including stickers or coloring sheets for young children.

Retell the story to the child, using his or her illustrations as you go.

Day 3: Have the child narrate the story to you, and write it down. Bind the pictures from yesterday with the narrative to create a book (staples or a folder work just fine). Feel free to assist the child in remembering the plot, but allow the words to be direct from him or her.

Day 4: Create a song that tells the story. If you are having trouble, use a familiar tune, like “The Farmer In The Dell” or “Twinkle, Twinkle.” You can have multiple verses, and can write down the lyrics to help you remember.

Day 5: Provide the child with props, and allow him to act out the story in a play. If needed, you can read the child’s narrative or the story (or sing the song from yesterday) while he acts.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Montessori Phonetic Small Object Activities

Small objects are used in Montessori schooling to help teach a child phonetic sounds of letter names in a hands-on way. The teacher would have a box for each letter of the alphabet that contains small objects that represent that letter sound. I was going to make my own boxes, but after a few months realized what a tedious and costly adventure it was personally going to take me. Instead, I eventually purchased the Alphabet Sound Teaching Tubs from Lakeshore Learning. While they are a $150 investment, they are fabulous, save a lot of time, and I think cannot be equally done any cheaper!

Here are a list of activity ideas to use with your Phonetic Small Objects:

Seek & Find: Randomly place all of the objects from 2 or 3 boxes onto the mat and ask her to find an object that begins with one of the letter sounds. After she identifies an object correctly, she can line it up under the appropriate letter and continue the game until all objects are with their respective letter.

Please, Bring Me! Place objects from two boxes across the room on a shelf or table. Ask the student to bring you something that begins with one of the letter sounds you’re practicing. When she brings back the correct object, ask her to name it. Confirm the name and make note of the sound. Example: “Yes, that’s a ball. Can you hear the ‘b’ sound in the word ‘ball’?”

I Spy: Put several objects from various containers on the tray and say “I spy with my little eye, something that begins with the ‘t’ (or whatever) sound.” The student may then find that object and name it.

Letter Match: Place the appropriate sandpaper letters out, spaced apart. Have your child trace the letter and make the sound. Mix the objects from 2-3 boxes, and allow the child to sort them by sound, placing the objects on the correct sandpaper letter.

Large Sandpaper Letter Match: Like the above “Letter Match,” but include more letters (10-12 at a time, when the child knows that many). Have the child first trace and say the sound of the letter, then find the objects for that sound.

Story Teller: Use the small objects from one box to create a story. This will reinforce that particular letter sound. As your child grows, you can incorporate more boxes at a time, and cue your child to which object she will need to include in her story next by holding up the sandpaper letter of which the next object should have the sound of.

Memory Game: Place all objects from one box on the tray. Have your child close her eyes and remove one object. Have her open her eyes and identify which object you removed. If she gets it right, give her a token. Take turns doing this until all of the objects are gone. Whomever has the most tokens, wins.

Thanks to http://CountingCoconuts.com for inspiring me with the first handful of ideas!